Ossipee selectmen want the hungry to get their food in Ossipee



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OSSIPEE CENTRAL SCHOOL STUDENTS Hunter Wrigley, Sarah Archambault, Madison Rasiak, and Jocelyn Walton, students in Ms. Dyer and Mrs. Hemmingway’s fifth grade classes, presented their findings on a water quality monitoring program they participated in under the guidance of Green Mountain Conservation Group. These students, along with their other classmates, collected macrointvertebrates from the Beech River in Ossipee and Swift River in Tamworth in September. They were happy to report to selectmen Dec. 3 that, based on the many tiny backboneless critters they found, the water quality in both rivers is excellent. The students will next be raising trout eggs in their classroom in a N.H. Fish and Game program with hopes of releasing the resulting hatched fish into the healthy water of both rivers. (Mellisa Seamans photo) (click for larger version)
December 06, 2012
OSSIPEE — "Why isn't Ossipee able to take care of its own?" was Ossipee Selectman Harry Merrow's question in response to a $2,500 request from L.I.F.E. Ministries at the Dec. 3 selectmen's meeting.

That organization operates a food pantry in Wolfeboro and, for the first time, asked selectmen to add money to the 2013 budget to help support their program. According to their non-profit funding request form, L.I.F.E Ministries asked for the funds to "purchase food for distribution to eligible clients," 25 percent of which come from Ossipee.

Selectman Chairman Kathleen Maloney argued the point that there is a food pantry, operated by Agape Ministries, in Ossipee and that Ossipee residents shouldn't be going out of town if they need food. But they are and, according to federal food distribution rules, they can't be turned away and the selectmen can't regulate where people go.

There was no one reason given why Ossipee people in need of food would go to the Wolfeboro pantry but several possibilities were given. They include transportation issues, Ossipee residents working or going to school in Wolfeboro might find it more convenient, the better quality of food distributed, or, a seemingly obvious reason that the needy might be uncomfortable going to a pantry in their own town where they will likely see people they know.

Because local pantries rely on being able to purchase and receive free food through the federal USDA surplus commodities program, those seeking food must complete an application to verify they meet income limits based on their household size. And because pantries participate in the federal food program it is illegal for them to turn away anyone based on the town in which they live. A representative from L.I.F.E said that even though the selectmen vehemently opposed their request for funding, they will continue to serve the people of Ossipee who are hungry.

According to their records, the pantry provided 19,200 meals to Ossipee residents last year with an estimated value of $40,000 to $50,000. L.I.F.E. is an outreach program formed through an effort of seven churches in the Wolfeboro and Tuftonboro area. The all-volunteer program has no personnel costs and of their total 2013 budget of $143,600, $132,000 will be used to buy food. The Town of Wolfeboro supports L.I.F.E. with an annual appropriation of $11,500 and Tuftonboro $1,500. Beyond that, the organization relies heavily on private and business donations as well as annual fundraising efforts including the Rotary auction on WASR that raises about $30,000.

It wasn't the vote against giving $2,500 to L.I.F.E. that raised the eyebrow of several in the audience as much as it was the way representatives from the program were spoken to by selectmen. One Ossipee resident, who asked her name not be given, said in the town hall lobby, "I'm embarrassed that our representatives treat people this way who are only trying to do good work."

Annually, selectmen are approached each year by a long list of non-profit organizations who hope their groups will pass board and budget committee muster and be added to the town meeting warrant in March. So far, the selectmen have voted to recommend these organizations from Ossipee – Ossipee Concerned Citizens ($18,000), Ossipee Central School's Out ($5,000), Ossipee Concerned Citizens Day Care ($6,000), Ossipee Children's Fund ($17,500) and Ossipee Historical Society ($4,000). Only one of these requests raised questions from selectmen. According to a representative from Ossipee Children's Fund, that group doled out 336 grants on behalf of 297 children last year. Of those, 71 percent were from Ossipee. The fund accepts funding requests and makes grants that help parents send their children to afterschool programs, summer day camp, and daycare programs.

Additionally, selectmen voted to support agencies outside of Ossipee that serve Ossipee residents including Northern Human Services ($4,425), Starting Point ($2,466); Appalachian Mountain Teen Project ($1,200), Medication Bridge ($1,191), Carroll County Transit/Blue Loon Bus ($3,000), White Mountain Community Health ($4,098), and VNA Hospice ($14,000).

As of press time they were publicly undecided on whether or not to support Agape Food Pantry's request of $9,500 and Ossipee Main Street Program's request of $9,500, though selectmen gave no information about what their concerns are with these two funding requests.

Other meeting news

Ossipee Public Works Director Brad Harriman reported that professional liability insurance concerns have been addressed and engineering work will soon begin on restoration of Whittier Covered Bridge in West Ossipee. The engineering portion of the project is expected to last through the winter.

Selectmen will hold a public hearing Jan. 7, 2013 at 6 p.m. to discuss the town's proposed flood maps.

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